My last duchess

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  • My last duchess

    1. 1. My Last Duchess Robert Browning English Literature GCSE Examination
    2. 2. My Last Duchess Dramatic monologue Speaker is the Duke of Ferrara - a Renaissance nobleman Reveals himself through what he has to say; in his choice of topic; manner of speech; and attitude to listeners
    3. 3. Dramatic monologue The poem is of the type called a dramatic monologue because it consists entirely of the words of a single speaker The Duke reveals his nature and personality through the way he speaks. A dramatic monologue shows the psychology of the speaker to the reader.
    4. 4. My Last Duchess Speaks informally to a social inferior the representative of a wealthy Count, whose daughter the Duke hopes to marry most of the poem is spent talking about his last Duchess
    5. 5. My Last Duchess Based on incidents in the life of Alfonso II, Duke of Ferrara in Italy. The duke's first wife, Lucrezia, died in 1561 — after they'd been married for 3 years.
    6. 6. Immediately we Immediately we learn that the learn that the “last” Duchess “last” Duchess is dead is dead That's my last Duchess painted on the wall, Looking as if she were alive. I call That piece a wonder, now: Fra Pandolf's hands Worked busily a day, and there she stands. What is the force What is the force of the word of the word “now” in the “now” in the third line? Note third line? Note how he pauses how he pauses slightly before slightly before saying it! saying it! Fra Pandolf is Fra Pandolf is the artist who the artist who painted the painted the portrait portrait
    7. 7. Will't please you sit and look at her? I said 'Fra Pandolf' by design, for never read Strangers like you that pictured countenance, face face The depth and passion of that earnest glance, But to myself they turned (since none puts by The curtain I have drawn for you, but I) dared dared And seemed as they would ask me, if they durst, How such a glance came there; so, not the first Are you to turn and ask thus. Note another Note another example of the example of the Duke’s authority Duke’s authority and arrogance and arrogance He knows people He knows people are in awe or fear are in awe or fear of him of him
    8. 8. He refers to himself in He refers to himself in the third person - -very the third person very distant and formal! distant and formal! His jealousy begins to emerge: His jealousy begins to emerge: Sir, 'twas not Her husband's presence only, called that spot Of joy into the Duchess' cheek: perhaps Fra Pandolf chanced to say 'Her mantle laps cloak cloak Over my lady's wrist too much,' or 'Paint Must never hope to reproduce the faint Half-flush that dies along her throat:' such stuff Was courtesy, she thought, and cause enough For calling up that spot of joy. The blush may have been The blush may have been caused by some polite caused by some polite compliment paid by the artist compliment paid by the artist
    9. 9. He hesitates He hesitates before expressing before expressing his disapproval his disapproval She had A heart - how shall I say? - too soon made glad, Too easily impressed; she liked whate' er She looked on, and her looks went everywhere. Are these criticisms Are these criticisms euphemisms for euphemisms for some greater fault? some greater fault? Or is he just absurdly Or is he just absurdly jealous? jealous? We only have the Duke’s word for this. He We only have the Duke’s word for this. He appears to be ridiculously possessive appears to be ridiculously possessive
    10. 10. A gift, perhaps aa A gift, perhaps brooch brooch He clearly resents that she He clearly resents that she does not regard his gift ... does not regard his gift ... Sir, twas all one! My favour at her breast, The dropping of the daylight in the West, The bough of cherries some officious fool Broke in the orchard for her, the white mule She rode with round the terrace - all and each Would draw from her alike the approving speech, Or blush, at least. … as being more important … as being more important than the sunset, aapresent of than the sunset, present of cherries, or her whilte mule cherries, or her whilte mule Note his Note his contemptuous contemptuous expression expression
    11. 11. Again he hesitates to Again he hesitates to put his anger into put his anger into words words She thanked men, - good! but thanked Somehow - I know not how - as if she ranked My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name With anybody's gift. But here is his main But here is his main criticism - -couched in criticism couched in typically arrogant typically arrogant language language
    12. 12. He considers it He considers it beneath him to have beneath him to have to put his displeasure to put his displeasure into words into words - Even had you skill In speech - (which I have not) - to make your will Quite clear to such an one, and say, 'Just this Or that in you disgusts me; here you miss, Or there exceed the mark' - and if she let Herself be lessoned so, nor plainly set Her wits to yours, forsooth, and made excuse, E'en then would be some stooping; and I choose Never to stoop. The last phrase The last phrase shows him to be shows him to be utterly unbending utterly unbending truly - -(an archaic truly (an archaic expression) expression)
    13. 13. It seems he did It seems he did not even notice not even notice her smiles her smiles Oh sir, she smiled, no doubt, Whene'er I passed her, but who passed without Much the same smile? This grew; I gave commands; Then all smiles stopped together. There she stands As if alive. This is almost aa This is almost repetition of the repetition of the second line - -aa second line reminder that reminder that she is dead she is dead These short phrases are These short phrases are utterly chilling. In another utterly chilling. In another euphemism he more or euphemism he more or less admits that he had her less admits that he had her murdered - -for smiling at murdered for smiling at other people! other people!
    14. 14. The viewing of the The viewing of the portrait is over portrait is over Will't please you rise? We'll meet The company below, then. I repeat, generosity generosity The Count your master's known munificence Is ample warrant that no just pretence Of mine for dowry will be disallowed; Though his fair daughter's self, as I avowed At starting, is my object. aagift given by the gift given by the bride’s family in an bride’s family in an arranged marriage arranged marriage His final comment His final comment sounds like an aftersounds like an afterthought. How thought. How convincing is it? convincing is it? His language becomes His language becomes very tortuous as he very tortuous as he touches on the subject touches on the subject of the dowry his of the dowry his prospective new bride prospective new bride may bring! may bring!
    15. 15. Roman god of Roman god of the sea the sea Nay, we'll go Together down, sir. Notice Neptune, though, Taming a sea-horse, thought a rarity, Which Claus of Innsbruck cast in bronze for me! The second word of the The second word of the poem was ‘my’; the last poem was ‘my’; the last one is ‘me’. The Duke is one is ‘me’. The Duke is completely self-centred. completely self-centred.
    16. 16. Written in heroic couplets Although it rhymes, the frequent enjambement means the rhyming is not intrusive Tone is formal even if conversational Use of elision eg ‘twas not’, ‘whene’er’ Use of archaism eg ‘forsooth’
    17. 17. Duke repeatedly reveals his arrogant egotism: ‘my last Duchess’ ‘none puts by/The curtain I have drawn for you, but I’ ‘My favour at her breast’ ‘My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name’ ‘cast in bronze for me!’
    18. 18. Wife linked to images of freedom: ‘she liked whate’er she looked on’ ‘the faint/Half-flush that dies along her throat’ ‘bough of cherries’ ‘white mule’ Duke associated with images of restriction: ‘I choose/Never to stoop’ ‘I gave commands’ He seems more comfortable with her portrait than he was with the living woman!

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